Lennox Lewis had the intense desire to not only avenge his shock loss to Hasim Rahman but to do it quicker than Rahman had beaten him. As fans know, huge underdog Rahman sensationally KO’d Lewis in the fifth round in their fight in South Africa. An ill-prepared Lewis ran out of gas, suffering from the draining quality of the altitude he had not fully acclimated himself to, and Rahman lowered the boom.
But the great ones come back.
Lewis had a rematch clause in place and he had to go to court to force it, as Rahman actually opted to make defence number-one against David Izon. Instead, Lewis got what he wanted in court, now he had to get what he wanted in the ring. The rematch was on: November 17, 2001 – Las Vegas. After a brief Ali-Frazier type scuffle in a TV studio, Rahman making “gay” remarks towards Lewis, it was a case of “Repeat or Revenge” at The Mandalay Bay.
Lewis boxed effectively if somewhat cautiously in the opening three rounds, winning them all. Rahman felt he would get to Lewis’ chin the same way he had done seven months ago, but this time it was a different Lewis he was in there with. In top shape, fully focused and more motivated than at any time in his career, Lewis was at his best. In the fourth round, we witnessed a stunning knockout.
Lewis suddenly fired out a savage two-punch combination, the left-right explosion catching Rahman flush, the bombs splintering Rahman’s equilibrium and sending the soon to be ex-champ crashing to the floor. Rahman fell a second time as he tried, on sheer instinct, to rise. It was over. Lewis had gained his revenge and due to the manner of his brutal and clinical victory, there was absolutely no call for a third fight between the two, even though they were now 1-1.
Lewis, when his Hall of Fame career was over, had the satisfaction of having beaten every single man he ever fought. Today’s heavyweights could do worse than to look at what Lennox did as motivation for avenging a defeat of their own. Lewis showed the world how it should be done. Lennox scored some awesome KO’s during his great career – over fine fighters such as Razor Ruddock, Frank Bruno, Frans Botha, Tommy Morrison, (a faded) Mike Tyson, Michael Grant and others – but maybe the knockout he scored over Rahman was Lewis’ sweetest.